Maison De Victor Hugo

September 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

These are some photographs from my visit to Maison De Victor Hugo in Place Des Vogues, Paris.  Firstly I was overwhelmed by the intricate and detailed style of his illustrations.  In my opinion, it didn’t look like the art of the 19th century.  To me he was well ahead of his time and his work was so exciting and looked almost current.  I then began to understand why his art was so detailed when I seen the exact layout of his house.  The decoration was so extremely over the top, head to toe in rich colours and patterns and most importantly full of character and personality.  The only similarity between each room was the sheer exaggeration of pattern they all had, whilst each room had a different theme, not unlike his artwork.  I wonder, can the surroundings Hugo was in have affected his style of work or vise versa?  Perhaps Hugo just had an attention to detail in every write, whether it be his novels, his art or even his home.


Opening Vignette to book IV to Notre Dame De Paris by Victor Hugo 1844

September 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Opening Vignette to book IV to Notre Dame De Paris by Victor Hugo 1844

Looking at the work of Sir John Tenniel, the thin lined, scratchy dark quality of the work reminded me greatly of Victor Hugo’s illustrations i had seen earlier this year. Hugo was first and foremost a french poet, novelist, and dramatist who was the most well-known of all the French Romantic writers. His best known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831, (also known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame). In the summer i went to an exhibition which took place in his house in Place Des Vosges, Paris exhibiting some of his many illustrations and also the actual layout of his house. These works were incredibly detailed and fascinating that i found myself staring at each tiny drawing for around 10 minutes. It was mind blowing to see how decorative and over the top his apartment was too. Definitely worth a visit if in the area.  Click on the picture for a link to the exhibition details.

Punch Magazine

September 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

John Tenniel’s illustrations were featured heavily in this 19th century magazine, among other artists such as Du Maurier, Shepard, Pont, Illingworth, Fougasse, R.S Sherriffs, Trog and Searle.  This is a great website documenting a lot of the art and content in general of the magazine, aswell as educating people on how it came about.  It is worth a look as it has played such a huge part in the history of illustration.  Historically, it was most influential in the 1840s and 50s, when it helped to coin the term “cartoon” in its modern sense as a humorous illustration.  I find that nowadays, a lot of people know exactly what a cartoon is but they struggle with the term illustration and aren’t sure what it involves.  Many a time when I’ve mentioned that I am an illustrator I get the response “oh so you draw cartoons”.  I think because magazines like punch have been so popular, the ‘cartoon’ or ‘caricature’ has become one of the most recognised forms of illustration.

Sir John Tenniel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 1865

September 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

The 19th Century brought us Sir John Tenniel, a british illustrator, graphic humourist and political cartoonist. He has achieved immensely by being the principle political cartoonist for England’s ‘Punch’ magazine for over 50 years. Another one of his main achievements was illustrating Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s adventures in wonderland.Image

Tenniel’s illustrations for the Alice books were engraved onto blocks of deal wood by Thomas Dalziel.  These were then used as masters for making the electrotype copies for the actual printing of the books.  The origional woodblocks are now in the collection of the Bodleian library in Oxford.  These illustrations have a certain creepiness to them which appeals to me.

Arrest Of Christ, Book Of Kells (Trinity College Dublin, MSA.I), fol.144r

September 21, 2012 § Leave a comment


The history of illustration dates back so far but during a lecture on this subject, something that was brought back to my attention was the Book Of Kells.  It was created by Celtic monks in the early 9th century and is an illuminated manuscript gospel book in Latin, containing the four gospels of the New Testament.  It was regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure, which, being irish myself might be a reason for my interest in it.  That, along with the incredibly detailed full page illustrations, Celtic knots, patterns, decorated initials and vibrant colours that enliven the manuscripts pages fascinates me. Based on multi-leaved Greco-Roman wax tablets. Vellum/parchment, secured between two boards and bound at spine.  It is incredibly involving and religious and is crucial for dissemination of christian belief and is believed to have had a certain experience of ‘reading.’

“Cave of forgotten dreams”- Werner Herzog

September 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

The cave of forgotten dreams is Werner Herzog’s most recent documentary. It travells through the Chauvet cave in the Ardeche region of France bringing to light all of the amazing artwork that lines the interior of this 1800-foot cave. It shows the paintings so clearly, looking like they were made yesterday when infact they were painted in two time periods around 32,000 and 27,000 years ago. The paintings interact and play with the structure of the cave itself.  This documentary shows how this wasn’t only the start of illustration but also in a way the start of animation. There is a certain 3D quality to the paintings which gives them a movement as you follow them through the cave.

“magical.  It’s almost like watching the reinvention of the cinematic medium.”- Andrew Pulver, The Guardian.

“mesmerizing.  The images are breathtaking-unlike anything you’ve seen before or will see again”- Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

Journey of illustration from the caves to the street

September 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Street art really isn’t so modern after all; it is simply another incarnation of our desire to express our emotional and physical existence”- portsmouth museum of art. Amanda Finnegan tour guide

Cavemen paintings date back to the Palaeolithic period 40,000BC.  Whilst researching these incredible pieces of art I found myself getting more and more excited about one cave in particular, the Chauvet Cave in Southern France.  Image

The themes of the drawings would mostly be of animals.  There are several different theories as to why or what these cavemen were communicating, including religious reasons, spiritual or ritual.  Whilst it is very difficult for myself to believe in just one theory over another I do believe every piece of art created was a way of communicating as evidence shows they were not decorations of living areas.  After my investigation, I was overwhelmed at the beauty of the art, and talent involved in creating these illustrations.  Cavemen paintings have definitely had an influence on illustration as the idea of public art in today’s modern world is still alive more than ever with the likes of Kurt Wenner a pavement artist creating religious 3D like public art, to name but a few.  It is the desire to create art for appreciation, without needing to know the identity of the artist.

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